Herniated Disc Treatment in Willowbrook, IL
What is a herniated disc?
Our spines have 23 discs that act as cushioning shock absorbers between the vertebrae. These discs can be compared to a jelly donut. There is a soft center, called the nucleus, surrounded by a tougher exterior, called the annulus. When a spinal disc herniates a crack or tear develops in the annulus and the nucleus pushes out through the opening. Pain develops when the herniation pushes on a nearby nerve root, compressing it.
A herniated disc that pushes on nearby nerves will usually cause pain, numbness, or weakness in an arm or leg. This depends on the area served by the compressed nerve.
What are the signs of a herniated disc?
The lumbar spine is made up of six vertebrae and five discs. It bears the most loads and consequently is the site of most herniated discs. The cervical spine can also develop herniated discs. The central thoracic spine rarely has this problem
These are the common symptoms of a herniated disc:
- Arm or leg pain — Where you feel the pain will be dependent upon where the herniated disc is pushing on the nerve. The pain will usually be on one side of your body. If your pain is predominantly in your buttocks, thighs, and calves, the herniated disc in likely in the lumbar spine. If the pain is in your shoulder and arm, the herniation is in your cervical spine. This kind of pain can shoot into your extremity when you do seemingly innocuous things such as coughing or sneezing.
- Numbness or tingling — As the disc gel presses on the nerve root, it can begin to affect nerve function. As the nerve is becoming more and more compressed it shows this through continued numbness or tingling in your hands, arms, or legs.
- Weakness — As nerves decrease function, the muscles they control will begin to become weaker. This can cause the person to stumble, have trouble holding things and other fine motor skills, or even begin to have trouble lifting the impacted arm.
How is a herniated disc treated?
In most patients, Dr. Elborno can successfully manage their pain and their symptoms will resolve over the course of a few days up to a few weeks.
- Over-the-counter medications
- Narcotics —If your pain doesn’t respond to over-the-counter pain relievers, Dr. Elborno may prescribe short-term narcotic options, such as Percocet or OxyContin. But these can only be short-tern, due to their addictive qualities.
- Anticonvulsants — These drugs were originally developed to control seizures, but they can be effective for helping with radiating nerve pain.
- Muscle relaxers — If you have recurring muscle spasms, these can relax those muscles.
- Cortisone injections — Corticosteroids can be injected directly into the area around the spinal nerves. Dr. Elborno uses spinal imaging for these injections to guide the injection location. These injections relax inflammation and calm irritated nerve roots.
Physical therapy can be used to strengthen areas and help eliminate certain movements that cause pain.
Surgery is usually only needed in a small percentage of cases of herniated discs. If treatment is not improving your pain after six weeks, this could be an option. Surgery can also be necessary when the nerve compression is beginning to really impact muscle control. This can lead to permanent nerve damage if not addressed. The most common surgery is called a discectomy, where the portion of the bulging disc is removed during minimally invasive surgery.
- “Excellent! The staff is always kind and understanding and very professional. Dr E goes above and beyond to explain the diagnosis and treatment plan. This is a doctor who truly cares about his patients. Not everyone understands the issues with chronic pain, but Dr. Elborno does and he addresses his patients with respect as well as caring.”– Paula R.
- “Hospitality was given as soon as you step foot in the door. You can tell immediately from the Doctor all the way down through the staff, they loved and are very good at what they do. Went in for what they offer and left with new friends. Can’t wait to be back. Thank You for the unmatched 5 star service.”– Omar A.